70 years of helping people to care for our ocean

Keena exercises in deeper water

By: Ann Kunz

Does anyone remember Keena, the injured loggerhead turtle who was admitted to our rehabilitation programme on the 27th December last year after being found struggling in the breakers at Sodwana Bay? She had suffered severe injury to both her front flippers and her prognosis on arrival was very poor. She was missing half of one flipper and two thirds of the other. Despite this, Keena very quickly lived up to her name and showed the rehab staff what a wonderful fighting spirit she has and how very brave she is.

She has spent the past four months in a pool on her own slowly healing and regaining her strength and has made such significant progress that the team decided that it was time to take her for some exercise in the main Open Ocean exhibit. Her rehab pool is approximately 1.2 meters deep which is perfect for recovering turtles but they felt that as she had made such significant progress they would see how she managed in a pool 4 meters deep.

It was wonderful to witness the husbandry team carefully transporting her to the main pool and vigilantly watching over her to ensure that all went well. She was monitored to ensure that she did not overexert herself and that she was comfortable holding her breath and swimming to the surface when she needed air.

She did remarkably well and spent just under an hour exploring the pool and all its inhabitants before the team took her back to her rehab pool to rest and recover. The flipper stumps are healing well but will take time to heal completely.

“Today was an incredibly special day for the team and Keena. Watching her swim today was nothing short of magical, she is a most incredible creature that reminds us daily of how resilient turtles are. Even with the odds stacked against her, she has managed to persevere. We are hopeful that with a bit more time, Keena will be able to move into one of the large exhibits”, said Senior Aquarist Malini Pather.